The Department of Excise is likely to order a Crime Branch investigation into the incident in which a bar hotel manager at Kodenchery in Kozhikode district was arrested on the charge of procuring and selling a huge quantity of illicit liquor using old bottles of cheap brands. As part of the follow-up investigation, the hotel has been sealed by the officials, who have also carried out flash inspections in other parts of the district to check the quality of the existing stock.
The district-level special squad that exposed the fraud by seizing 650 bottles of liquor from the bar on Sunday is now on a task to track the exact source of the adulterated product which was distilled and packaged following no government-approved quality parameters or safety regulations. In the checking, it was found that the poor quality liquor was purchased by the bar hotel management to escape from a number of tax payment liabilities and to net a higher retail margin by cheating the customers.
“It was a clear case of illicit liquor trade where the brand names of some of the cheapest products were misused to cheat the customers. The liquor was brought to the spot in barrels and it was later filled into the used bottles of three commonly available cheap brands,” said Deputy Excise Commissioner K. Jayapalan. The main intention of using such stock was to avoid an accurate purchase record at the office and evade a number of tax liabilities, he told The Hindu.
According to Mr. Jayapalan, the incident is very grave in nature as the department is sure to go for a State-level investigation that can zero in on the invisible elements behind the unexpected fraud.
“Though some of the quizzed hotel employees have already revealed that the illicit stock was brought to the spot only twice, we have no reasons to believe it as such. To verify this, the call detail records and other documents will have to be cross-checked in the further investigation, he said.
Excise Department officials, who were part of the raid, said it was the first such major incident reported in Kozhikode district where a licensed trader kept a huge stock of illicit liquor for resale. They also said a thorough inspection was currently underway covering all the 35 bar hotels in the district to verify all the sales records and check the quality of the stock. Shadow squads were also posted in some locations on Monday to monitor the business activities and stock management in suspected areas, they said.